Speech of Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on official seat agreement between the Republic of Austria and the European Fundamental Rights Agency
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Dear Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am very pleased to be here along with Director Morten Kjaerum in these premises. And I am happy to welcome you warmly to this ceremony to witness the signing of the Headquarters Agreement between the Republic of Austria and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency today.
Austria’s longstanding commitment to the Fundamental Rights Agency goes back to 1998 when we launched the idea of such an institution. Subsequently, we have played quite an influential role in bringing the Agency into existence. We are proud to host an institution that has become a highly regarded centre of competence for human rights in Europe. I would like to reiterate our commitment to support the Agency wherever possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The Agency closes a gap in the European human rights architecture and increases the visibility of the EU as a Union of values, the rule of law and human rights. But more importantly, this Agency has an added value for Europe’s citizens. It acts as “the eyes and ears” to ensure that their rights are protected by EU legislation. The Agency plays an important role in the development of a rights-based and inclusive society that sees diversity as an asset.
This is why we support a strong and independent Agency that responds promptly and competently to new developments and requests for legal expertise. This is why we support the Agency to work as a human rights coach for the countries of the Western Balkans on their way to Europe. And this is why we believe the Agency’s reports and legal expertise should serve as a basis for the Council’s consideration of questions touching upon fundamental rights within the EU.
Finally, I would like to thank Morten Kjaerum and his staff for the great dedication to get this Agency up and running since the Agency took up its work. I wish you and your team all the best for the important work that is lying ahead of you!